This one time, at Scout Camp, I got norovirus

I was in Beavers and Cubs for a couple of years as a kid (that’s the Canadian equivalent of Boy Scouts). Each week my parents dropped me off and the parent/volunteer organizers led us through games and crafts (I remember capture the flag and making wooden cars). Every year there was an overnight camping trip that I opted out of. It wasn’t the possibility of norovirus that kept me from camp; it was the rumors of cold, wet cabins.

Centre Daily Times reports that Seven Mountains Scout Camp in Spring Mills PA is shutting down for the the final week of a scheduled camp after 20+ campers became ill with what sounds like Norovirus.

Jim Kennedy, the executive director of the Juniata Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said Sunday his staff decided to “be cautious and safe” and close the camp. About 140 campers were expected to arrive Sunday.

Kennedy said he’s in daily contact with the county health department and will continue to work with that staff.

“We’ve taken their recommendations in cleaning the camp,” he said.

That includes bleaching everything, including mattresses, picnic tables, the pool, camp office, shower house, and every other part of the camp (not sure what the bleach will do on the picnic tables – if they are wood, there’s lots of organic matter to gobble-up the active compounds -ben).

As of Sunday, Kennedy said water and swimming pool tests at the camp came back clean.

While he said extensive cleaning efforts have taken place since Friday, Kennedy said staff also have begun making changes at the camp to address the spread of germs. He said they installed hand-washing stations that campers would’ve used this week, “so they could thoroughly wash their hands in front of us.”

Other efforts include changing meals from family style to cafeteria, changing meal cleanup so there is limited contact with items belonging to multiple people, and bringing in nurses for health screenings upon arrival to camp.

The changes sound like good proactive practices that camps should be employing anyway – in the absence of illnesses.

E. coli at camp; 13 Scouts sickened

My youngest daughter – although 13 seems fairly grown up — just came back from camp, and is going to be joining Amy and me in Kansas in a week.

She went to camp for the first time when she was 7. At the time I wrote,

Looks like I picked the wrong week to send my kids to camp.??? From sea to diarrheal sea, North Americans have been stricken by illnesses ???most likely transmitted in food.??? Two years ago, Canada was just beginning to have some myths shattered about??? Canadian clean water as reports trickled out regarding an outbreak of E.???coli O157:H7 in Walkerton, Ont. In the end, 2,300 were sickened and seven??? killed, all in a town of 5,000.???

Now, 29 attendees at a cheerleading camp in Washington State have been ???stricken with the same bug, including a teenager whose kidneys were so ???damaged that she is on dialysis. Sleuthing by health investigators sparked a ???U.S.-wide recall of a brand of Romaine lettuce on Monday, which was clearly ???implicated in the outbreak.

This morning, I could only sigh and be thankful my youngest returned without diarrheal incident.
Health officials have confirmed that at least 13 boys, all but one from Northern Virginia, contracted E. coli bacterial infections while attending a popular Scout camp in Goshen, Va. …

Since the outbreak, Scout officials have taken steps to reduce the risk of further contamination by temporarily removing ground beef — a common source of E. coli — from camp menus; distributing hand sanitizers; and encouraging hand-washing and proper hygiene.

At some point people may realize E. coli O157:H7 is present in the environment and could be in lots of foods and water – not just ground beef.